GPCA ’23: Gulf chemical industry can capitalise on clean energy transition

Nurluqman Suratman

03-Dec-2023

DOHA (ICIS)–The Arabian Gulf chemical industry is well-placed to capitalise on the global clean energy transition and grow its investments in the circular economy, including hydrogen projects, but it cannot afford to be complacent, Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) secretary general Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun said.

“As new ecosystems are forming and new technologies are emerging, the industry must play an active role in shaping the new global landscape,” Al-Sadoun told ICIS.

“I also expect to see government and industry work more closely together to make technologies more affordable and improve transparency and accountability in the path to lowering emissions,” he said on the sidelines of the 17th Annual GPCA Forum.

The event held in Doha, Qatar on 3-6 December will explore the theme of “‘Mobilizing Chemistry for Impactful Transformation”.

“The Annual GPCA Forum is taking place at a crucial time for the industry this year, as the energy transition, the circular economy, climate change and regulatory pressure continue to grow to drive more concerted action on sustainability,” Al-Sadoun said.

The global chemical industry remains in the process of transformation – both on the inside and the outside, Al-Sadoun noted.

“Internally, it is rethinking its operations and re-engineering the design of its products and solutions in response to changing sustainability requirements and norms, both from the regulators as well as its customers,” he said.

On the external front, the chemical industry is facing the need to address climate change, Al-Sadoun said, adding that this imperative is not exclusive to just the petrochemicals industry but virtually all sectors and stakeholders globally.

“We believe that chemistry will have a vital role to play in shaping a more sustainable world, now and into the future,” Al-Sadoun said.

“Whether that’s through light-weighing vehicles, therefore, driving down emissions, to prolonging the shelf life of food and other products with its innovative packaging solutions, to producing more sustainable, innovative plastic solutions which have the ability to be recycled multiple times.”

“As we speak, the world is recognizing the urgent need for improved transparency and accountability on our climate impact. This year, our region is taking a centre stage as the world continues its commitment towards sustainability,” he said.

The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28 (Conference of the Parties], is currently underway in the UAE.

The GPCA forum this year aims to foster dialogue around how chemistry can be a crucial enabler in shaping a more sustainable world, and at the same time, encourage government leaders, chemical CEOs, technology providers and the youth to come together and each share their perspective on what kind of transformation is needed to enact, in order to drive lasting impact in the region, Al-Sadoun said.

Collaboration will be crucial going forward to creating an environment where developing more circular plastic solutions is both economically and commercially feasible and can be sold to the end-customer at a competitive cost, he said.

“Brand owners, original equipment manufacturers (OEM), retailers, waste and recycling companies, technology providers, policy-makers, regulators and converters would all need to work alongside the plastic industry to address the plastic waste challenge,” Al-Sadoun said.

GPCA has been working closely with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) to encourage adoption of sustainable plastic waste management practices among its members.

“We’ve agreed to exchange our unique areas of expertise to support the delivery of impact-focused projects across and beyond the GCC,” Al-Sadoun said.

“The collective lessons learnt, best practice and perspectives of GPCA and the Alliance will be applied to develop, scale and replicate these projects, which include those that drive recycling, public engagement and other existing community-focused programs,” he added.

Interview article by Nurluqman Suratman

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